My new kitchen toy is a Guide Gear 10-shelf dehydrator, seen here, if interested. It just cranked out the most beautiful, tasty batch of beef jerky in 4 hours flat!! I love me some good beef jerky!! This has always been my husband’s favorite snack as well. And the perfect low-carb snack indeed! At $12-16 per pound in most meat markets, this is a very expensive little snack. For years I made my jerky on regular sheet pans in the oven at 155-160º for 4-6 hours, basting and turning the meat a couple times during the drying process. Doable, but not as easy. A dehydrator allows the strips of meat to dry on open racks, with forced warm air circulation around all sides of the meat, eliminating the need to turn the meat at all, somewhat speeding up the drying process. My old plastic small dehydrator with only 4 very small shelves gave up the ghost years ago and I’m just now replacing it with this large model. And I’m SO glad I finally acquired a new one!
This recipe can be done with other cuts of beef, but sirloin will be the lowest in calories and fat (except for skirt meat) and probably the best meat value for jerky. I began with 4 nice sirloins (about 6# raw meat total) that when trimmed of all fat, sinew, any visible gristle and membrane, yielded exactly 5# of lean strips of raw beef. That dried out to exactly 32 oz. of finished jerky. Since I can’t possibly know how much you will eat at a sitting, I’m giving you nutritional info for a 1 oz. serving, which is probably 2-3 pieces, depending on their size.
When slicing your meat, it is important to slice it uniformly thick (FYI, longer strips are best for dehydrator trays. If oven cooking, the length of the strips is unimportant). I aim for 3/16″-1/4″ thick slices. HANDY TIP: Slicing partially frozen meat is easier, if you can take the time to partially freeze it. Any thinner than 3/16″ will reduce your final jerky to crispy critters faster than the thicker pieces (must remove those from cooking sooner); thicker than 1/4″ will take a long time to fully dry out.
I like to marinate my meat for at least 6 hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator in a covered plastic pan before dehydrating. You will get better flavor results with longer marinating time. :) For those that like a sweeter, teryaki-type jerky, you can add 1 tsp. of maple extract and a dab of your favorite sweetening agent.
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6-6½ lbs. boneless sirloin (will yield about 5 lb. trimmed meat)
1 T. tomato paste (Walmart Great Value brand is pure tomato pulp, no added sugar)
3/4 c. red wine or water
1/3 c. soy sauce (not low-sodium), wheat-free tamari or coconut aminos
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 pkt. stevia, Splenda or other sweetener (optional)
DIRECTIONS: Trim all fat, membrane, sinew and gristle off the meat. Any left on will expedite spoilage. Partially freeze meat to facilitate slicing. Slice the partially frozen meat 3/16″ thick. In large plastic/glass marinating pan, blend tomato paste with soy sauce until smooth. Add water and remaining ingredients and stir well. Add meat to the marinade and using hands, toss meat several times to coat well. Cover and marinate 6 hours or overnight, covered, in refrigerator. You can also marinate the meat in gallon zip-log plastic storage bags. I recommend placing them into pans though, in case of leakage you won’t want to mess up the refrigerator ;) Stir once or twice during marinating (or manipulate the bag with your hands to be sure all the meat is touching the marinade.
When ready to dehydrate, lift meat pieces out of marinade and lay on dehydrator trays or non-stick baking sheets, leaving a ¼” space between pieces. You do not want them to touch each other as this will block air/heat circulation. Set dehydrator to meat setting (155º-160º) for 4-6 hours. I check mine every hour, in case small/thin pieces are over drying. No matter how hard you try, some pieces will slice out thinner than others. It just happens!
My jerky takes 4 hours in my dehydrator, but it used to take me 8 hours, for several reasons, mostly tray overcrowding in my old smaller dehydrator. If oven cooking on pans, set oven between 160º-200º. Turn meat every hour (usually 1 or 2 times is enough). Take pieces out of the dehydrator/oven as they appear to be fully dried. It goes without saying, any thick pieces will take longer to fully dry out. Discard any marinate remainders as it is contaminated with raw meat juices. When jerky has cooled, ENJOY!!
For remainders, wrap in small batches in foil and then place the foil packs into a large ziploc bag. Though they can be stored on the counter for 1-2 months, if not properly dried, it can mold/spoil. Refrigerating therefore, is always the safest way to store jerky that has not been done commercially. I actually keep most of mine in the freezer and just thaw 1 foil pack as needed, keeping the one in the fridge until that pack is fully consumed.
NUTRITIONAL INFO: Makes 32 oz. (2 lb) finished jerky, or 32 servings of 1 oz. each. Each serving contains:
2.52 g fat
0.58 g carbs, .09 g fiber, 0.49 g NET CARBS
16 g protein
128 mg sodium